Mar 21, 2024 - Sale 2663

Sale 2663 - Lot 223

Price Realized: $ 27,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000
(ENTERTAINMENT--THEATER.) Broadside for Ira Aldridge's performance of Shakespeare--and Jim Crow. Letterpress broadside, 17 x 10½ inches; moderate wear, tastefully conserved, tipped into a modern archival folder. Carlisle, England: Charles Thurnam, 24 November 1840

Additional Details

Ira Frederick Aldridge (1807-1867) was an African-American actor who was born in New York but emigrated in 1824 in search of greater opportunities. He slowly worked his way up through the regional theaters of Great Britain and Ireland, often billing himself as a native of Africa. He was brought in to play Othello at Covent Garden's Theatre Royal, and went on to a long career as one of England's leading actors. He is the only actor of African descent to be honored with a plaque at the Shakespeare Memorial Theater.

This broadside was produced for one of Aldridge's performances at the George Inn Assembly Room in provincial Penrith in northern England. It lists dozens "of the distinguished Patrons of Mr. Ira F. Aldridge, the African Roscius," most of them members of the peerage and military officers. It describes him as "the only Actor of Colour that was ever known, and probably the only instance that will ever again occur" (!!!), and offers a paragraph of family history. He is billed to appear in four roles: as Zanga in "Revenge; or The Captive Moor"; as Shylock on "The Merchant of Venice"; to "sing a New Version of Jim Crow!!"; and finally as "Ginger Blue" in a comic piece titled "Virginian Mummy."